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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Rocky road ahead in Lebanon

Jonathan Spyer provides a realistic analysis of what's likely to happen in Lebanon.
Hezbollah's new manifesto condemns the United States as the "root of all terror," and a "danger that threatens the whole world." The document also reiterates the call for the destruction of Israel, describing the need to "liberate Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa" as a "religious duty" for all Muslims. There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that these sentiments are intended for the printed page only. Indeed, recent visitors to Lebanon speak of a high, almost delusional state of morale among circles affiliated with Hezbollah. In the closed world around the movement, it is sincerely believed that the next war between Israel and Hezbollah will be part of a greater conflict in which Israel will be destroyed.

The true balance of power is rather different, of course. And as Hezbollah slowly swallows other elements of the Lebanese system, the conclusion being reached in Israel is that any differentiation between the movement and the nest it has taken over is increasingly artificial - and will not be maintained in a future conflict.

The history of the region shows that anti-Western ideological waves can indeed eventually be accommodated and dealt with pragmatically - but this cannot be achieved at the moment of their rise. The examples of pan-Arabism and Palestinian nationalism suggest that only following military defeat and socioeconomic failure are flexibility and pragmatism likely to make an appearance. Political Islam has not yet reached this stage. Current events in Lebanon show its local Shi'ite manifestation to be in a state of rude health. It is brushing aside local foes, marching through the institutions, as tactically agile as it is strategically deluded. Yet its latest manifesto suggests that it remains the prisoner of its ideological perceptions. The recent history of the Middle East, meanwhile, indicates that gaps between reality and perception tend to be decided - eventually - in favor of the former.
Yes, but only if the good guys win the war. And to do that, the West (including the United States and Israel) will first have to acknowledge that Lebanon is Hezbullah, that Hezbullah is Lebanon and that Hezbullah is a 100% terror organization that is not divided into a 'political wing' and a 'military wing.' What could go wrong?


At 7:01 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - it was only over a quarter of a century ago that the Lebanese Shiites welcomed Israel as a liberator from Palestinian oppression. Yet gratitude rarely lasts for long, especially towards the infidel Jew in the Middle East. Even defeat doesn't seem to make much of an impression upon the Muslim mind.

What could go wrong indeed


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